Date: 3/30/18 8:19 pm
From: David Barrett <miler6...>
Subject: Re: [nysbirds-l] Real-time bird alerts for Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens
Sean and all,

Let me address your issues point-by-point.

No one is required to post on anything, and no one is required to "chase"
any of the alerts. You and all birders are free to post as you see fit or
not post, for whatever reasons you have -- ethical or otherwise. None of
the county alerts have ever posted on a species on the eBird Sensitive
Species List, and it is likely that they never will. Though if a Gyrfalcon
ever chances to visit Brooklyn again, I suspect you will want to see it. So
will a lot of other people.

I strongly encourage all users of my alerts to treat wildlife with
appropriate respect. Ultimately, what anyone does with the alert info is a
matter of personal choice.

The alerts rely on public information and on tweets contributed freely and
willingly by followed users. In particular, publicly-visible eBird reports
are *public* information: anyone can view these reports online.

That said, as a general rule and out of respect for people's privacy, I do
not attribute names to reports of eBird users who do not follow the county
alerts on which I post the info. I may rarely include the eBird list as a
link, a permitted use of eBird info. The report itself is a matter of
public record. My posting that there is a "Eurasian Wigeon at Marine Park"
does not infringe on anyone's privacy.

In further point of fact, I do not see any Direct Messages on my account of
people asking that I not use their tweets. Not that it would matter -- for
reasons I discuss below. I do have a lot of messages thanking me for
running a great site and helping them to see the birds they wanted to see.

As a Twitter user you are aware that tweets posted on Twitter enter the
public realm -- same with anything you post on the internet. Private
information is a different matter, and Twitter has a policy on that:

But I am not posting people's credit card numbers (of course that is
against Twitter rules). Twitter allows posting people's names, but I do not
even do that -- nor do I even post their Twitter handles -- if they are NOT

I run sites that provide birding information, and I post such information
as I am made aware of it. That is most certainly a fair use of Twitter

Often other users pass information along to me from what they read or see.
If someone I trust tells me, "There is an Eastern Phoebe at Lullwater" I
will tweet "Eastern Phoebe reported at Lullwater." Maybe you were the
initial finder of the bird. Maybe you even tweeted it -- I don't know. If
you want credit, ask to follow my alerts and use them. But, no, you do not
get to decide that I cannot tweet that a certain wild bird might be in a
certain public place just because you saw it there!

Major League Baseball, by comparison, legally sells the rights to broadcast
its games. Still, I can tweet, "Severino struck out the side in the 3rd" if
I want -- even if the hitters he struck out would prefer that information
be kept quiet, and even if a hundred other fans tweeted the same thing.

To be clear, I am just another Twitter user. You see how Twitter works --
people say stuff on Twitter, and then other people respond to it. Sometimes
people say embarrassing things they immediately wish they had not said, and
then that stuff gets retweeted or quote-tweeted a million times and jobs
are lost and lives ruined. The excuse, "Sorry, I wanted that tweet to be
kept private" carries no weight. That is just not how Twitter works.

So no, there is no Facebook analogy here. I do not own any of your data. I
do not even make any money from the alerts -- in fact, I pay for the cloud
computing time that allows my software to run so the alert accounts can
gather and relay data quickly. You and I have no contract between each
other, implied or otherwise. If you want your bird reports to be completely
private, don't post them to Twitter or eBird or anywhere else on the net.
Then we'll all be the worse off for it.

I created Brooklyn Bird Alert because I wanted to help grow the birding
community in Brooklyn and provide it with a top-notch, free service that
organizes real-time reports and makes it simple for everyone to gain access
to them. Instead of everyone having to laboriously follow 100+ other
birding accounts and then get those 100+ to follow them back, I offer a
simple solution: follow the @BirdBrklyn account and it will provide all
relevant reports and handle following all other users. It also gives credit
to those followed users tweeting reports with it. We have a lot of happy
Brooklyn followers.

This is all I have to say on the matter. I am happy to discuss further with
you (or anyone) by email, but I will not say anything more here. I think we
all would like to focus on enjoying the start of the season and on reading
bird reports here.

David Barrett

On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 8:36 PM, Sean Sime <sean...> wrote:

> There has been much discussion off-list regarding the Twitter alert
> systems you have set up and the many unknowns I'm hoping you may be able to
> shed some light on to the list and therefore I'm replying here.
> We all agree there can be great benefit to information sharing via social
> media. Yet there are many who are concerned regarding your practice of
> posting sensitive species locations, currently daytime roosting owls, but
> given line #4 in your post, "There are no restricted species" it would
> imply nesting species as we move into season as well.
> While many people in Kings County were eager to give the birdbk hashtag a
> try it quickly seemed to push the limits of our local birding community's
> ethics in this regard. This post is in no way an attempt to have a
> discussion regarding what level of intrusion on bird life is appropriate.
> While most of us follow the ABA Code of Ethics or follow similar guidelines
> via local organizations or eBird it is easy to understand different people
> have different opinions on the matter.
> What I am wondering and I'm hoping you will shed some light on is the
> apparent harvesting of data outside of the purview of people who are using
> the hashtag, whether from eBird, local text alerts or what have you. What
> seems particularly troubling is that multiple people have specifically DM'd
> you and asked that you do not use their tweets and you continue to retweet
> them anyway, although apparently stripping their names from your posting.
> Given the current events, it seems appropriate people should have a full
> understanding of how their data is being gathered, stored and used.
> While reasonable people may disagree on what is ethical birding or not I
> see less room for different interpretations when it comes to ignoring a
> member of the birding community's direct request to have you not use their
> data. As one human being to another this seems to be completely lacking in
> civility. I hope you will take the time to respond to these concerns to the
> list as they are shared by many people in the NYC birding community.
> Kind regards,
> Sean Sime
> Brooklyn, NY
> On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 7:52 PM, David Barrett <miler6...> wrote:
>> Birds are back! There have been 38 Manhattan alerts already today,
>> including American Bittern. It's been a big day in the other boroughs, too.
>> And the season is just getting started.
>> These alerts cover both rarities AND non-rarities of interest, such as
>> the first few arrivals of expected migrants, like the Palm and Louisiana
>> Warblers we had today. Posts of birding news or general birding conditions
>> are fine, too.
>> To receive these alerts, follow the accounts on Twitter that are of
>> interest to you. The alerts are always publicly-viewable and searchable,
>> both on Twitter and on the web. Click on the links to see the stream of
>> recent alerts:
>> Manhattan: @BirdCentralPark,, #birdcp
>> Bronx: @BirdBronx,, #birdbx
>> Brooklyn: @BirdBrklyn,, #birdbk
>> Queens: @BirdQueens,, #birdqu
>> You can set your phone to notify you with sound or vibration as alerts
>> arrive.
>> To issue alerts yourself, first become a followed user by sending a
>> direct message on Twitter to one of the above accounts. Or email me and I
>> will get you set up.
>> Then to send an alert you just "tweet" using the appropriate hashtag as
>> above. For example, to send an alert for Queens:
>> Piping Plover at Rockaway Beach Edgemere #birdqu
>> I have written software that will see your tweet and immediately and
>> automatically relay it from the main account to all followers.
>> If you have never used Twitter before, it's easy. You can make a free
>> account for yourself in a few minutes on the web or by downloading the
>> Twitter app on your device. See my site for complete directions on getting
>> started with Twitter and on using these alerts:
>> I hope these alerts will make your birding more productive and enjoyable.
>> Email me with any questions.
>> These alerts are a great adjunct to eBird -- you can post quickly to them
>> without having to halt your eBird list and go through all the steps of
>> finalizing and sending your list.
>> Twitter also has some advantages over listservs:
>> 1) It allows you to attach map screenshots, photos, and videos
>> *directly* – no photo site needed.
>> 2) It allows followers to immediately view these multimedia files
>> without opening a browser.
>> 3) It's faster to use in the field -- no need to write a topic heading
>> or provide name/city signature.
>> 4) There are no restricted species.
>> 5) You'll get "likes!" And you can carry on discussions publicly or
>> privately with other birders.
>> 6) You do not need a smartphone -- just a regular phone that can send
>> text messages.
>> 7) Twitter has millions of users, offering the potential for wider
>> exposure and more participation.
>> Good birding,
>> David Barrett
>> Manhattan
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